The year 2015 was significant for women’s sports and the individual accomplishments of female athletes. The U.S. women’s national soccer team won it’s first World Cup since 1999. The televised broadcast garnered higher ratings than the NBA Finals, the World Series and NHL finals games, also broadcast that week. Abby Wambach retired with the title of leading scorer for both men’s and women’s soccer. Serena Williams was named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, one of only 8 women in the magazine’s history to be conferred the award. Rhonda Rousey, a trailblazer for women in mixed martial arts was awarded the ESPY for Best Female Athlete of the Year and Caitlin Jenner won the ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Courage award. Jennifer Welter captured headlines as the first woman to hold a coaching position in the NFL. All this lead some in the media to claim 2015 as “The Year of Women in Sport.”
Despite the accomplishments and important gains, girls and women continue to encounter barriers to their participation and experience various forms of gender inequality ranging from lack of media coverage, to disparities in resources, to a lack of opportunity in leadership positions in sports organizations. In her distinguished lecture, Dr. Cheryl Cooky discussed these tensions, drawing upon her research to examine the unevenness of social change and the current state of women’s sports. Panelists Marjorie Snyder, Research Director for the Women's Sports Foundation; Dr. Mike Messner, USC Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies; Dr. Alison Wrynn, CSUF Director of Undergraduate Studies & General Education and Professor of Kinesiology; and Dr. Steve Walk, CSUF College of Health and Human Development Associate Dean joined Dr. Cooky onstage after her lecture.